CST Community Spotlight: Venues Café, Carefree

Catherine Marr, owner of Venues Café says that offering a comfortable and safe place for people to enjoy comfort food with a Southwest flair is what her business is all about. The restaurant, located 34 Easy Street, has been a Carefree mainstay for 10 years.

“Entering the two story, red awning, brick building, you are immediately struck by the beauty and comfort of your surroundings,” said Marr. “Multiple rich textures of wood, stone and copper surround you and make you feel at home. The ambiance is comfortable, not stuffy and you can feel free to be Carefree in Venues.

“A fireplace rounds out the ambiance downstairs and there is also a dining room upstairs if you have a larger group or are just looking for a little extra Social distancing. Out front is a dog friendly patio overlooking the center of town, large glass patio doors providing great warmth and light into the dining area.”

Dining options include light bites such as deviled eggs with bacon jam, street tacos, loaded mac and cheese and lettuce wraps. Signature salads such as the Chicken Taco Salad, Roasted Beet Salad and customized Chopped Salad are popular, as well as full comfort meals like a baked, stuffed pork chop, Chicken Schnitzel with lingonberry sauce or mixed grill kabobs. Voted the best happy hour in the area, light bites are $4–$10, and $2 domestic beers and $5 wines and well drinks are offered 3–6pm every day.

Venues also delivers through Door Dash and Grub Hub and encourages take-out orders. The entire menu is available for take-out, except for brunch.

Current hours are 11:30am–8pm, Monday through Saturday. Brunch is served Sundays,

Specials include Monday Night Burgers, which include a choice of a complementary house wine or beer, and Thursday offers half priced bottles of wine with any entree purchase.

Marr added, “When we are able to safely gather again, Venues will resume their special evening events.”

In the meantime, she encourages residents to sign up as a VIP on the website or ask a server to sign them up to enjoy special discounts and learn about weekly happenings.

For additional information, call 480.595.9909 or visit venuescafe.com.

Popular Arizona Fine Artist Blazing New Trails — Again

Busy in his gallery at 34 Easy Street in Carefree is one of Arizona’s most prolific contemporary artist. Above Venues Café — overlooking Easy Street with beautiful views of Black Mountain — is artist Lance Headlee and his Top Floor Gallery. Headlee’s spacious gallery has high wood beam ceilings, large brick walls, candlelight and comfortable leather seating in a lounge-like atmosphere – as guests sip drinks, they are captivated and surrounded by large, beautifully illuminated original paintings like no other.

Venues and Headlee’s Top Floor Gallery offer locals and tourist a unique vision of the New West they cannot find anywhere else in Arizona, according to Joy Elizabeth, event planner for Global Destinations.

“Venue’s Café and Lance Headlee’s large specious Top Floor Gallery is a new hot spot for locals and tourist. Global Destinations is booking the restaurant and gallery for dinner parties, private parties, group meetings and many other special events all the time. The Top Floor Gallery will soon be home to the new Venues Poker Club, Bottle and Brush two-hour paint and wine parties, Golf Tournament parties, Horse Race parties and many other fun events that will take place at the restaurant and gallery. There is something that is comforting about the old red brick building in the heart of Carefree. It is a beautiful building with a warm and inviting atmosphere where everyone likes to go to eat drink and enjoy the view and beautiful surroundings.”

Lance Headlee has been bringing imagination to life applying paint to canvas for over 35 years. Headlee has been living in the world of fine art since the day when he was 8, and he watched his father draw a cowboy’s face on a piece of paper.

“That moment in time changed me forever — creativity and imagination became my life,” says Headlee.

After growing up in Colorado Springs and going to college for advertising design and fashion merchandising, Headlee moved to Manhattan Beach, California, where he began creating unique ideas for the apparel and swimwear industry to pay for canvas and painting supplies. As a self-taught artist living in California, Headlee would study fine art and famous painters, dead and alive.

Headlee explains, “To understand fine art and painting, I loved giving myself challenges to get better, I still do that today. I remember doing studies of photorealism. I would take pictures of the Manhattan Beach pier or lifeguard stands and then I would try to paint exactly what I was looking at. I would make the painting look exactly like the photograph. That’s how I would get better…just painting all the time.”

Headlee’s work sold out at Horizon Gallery and Icon Gallery in Manhattan Beach during the 90’s, but he felt the call of the Southwest, and moved to Arizona to get back to his roots painting the first thing he saw his father draw as a little boy — cowgirls and cowboys became his subject. Headlee stepped it up a notch, running in the opposite direction of traditional western images. He began painting large, stylized images of the New West, like “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Wine and Roses,” “A Long Ride West,” “Steel Pony,” and “Cowboy Caddy.” Color and imagination are what strike anyone viewing one of Headlee’s original paintings. The paintings are big, bold and in-your-face conversation pieces that are sure to stop people in their tracks. His images are distinctively original iconic images like no other. His palette is a mix of bright, vivid acrylic colors mixed with rich bold earth tones on large canvas. Cool, colorful, unique, fun, distinctive, original; these are some of the most common words used to describe his work.

One of Headlee’s collectors shared that, “In the world of art it is rare when an artist can create one style never seen before, but Lance has managed to create several different collections with a style like no other.”

But for Headlee, it is about much more than style.

“Even though I take painting seriously and I paint serious stylized subjects, I love throwing humor in my work sometimes just to mix it up. I love bringing smiles to people’s faces through the artful fun of creative imagination.”

Learn more: visit lanceheadlee.com  or venuescafe.com.

[This is an extended version of the article that originally appeared in the APRIL 2018 issue of CITYSunTimes.]

Join Your Neighbors For Food, Music & Fun

The Town of Carefree, in the spirit of friendship and celebration, will hold its inaugural Community Block Party Saturday, April 7, from 3pm to 7pm. The Block Party will take place in Downtown Carefree along Easy Street and the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion.

Carefree residents, Foothills neighbors, businesses and nonprofits of the Town are all invited to join in on the food, music, activities and fun for all ages. Entrance is free. The cost for a meal ticket is $6 and includes a hamburger, hotdog, chili, various side dishes and one non-alcoholic drink. There will be other items for purchase such as ice cream.

A highlight of the day will be the Town’s first official hot dog eating competition, which is scheduled for 4pm and will feature Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.

“Carefree isn’t a stranger to food eating contests even though this is our first hot dog competition. For the past three years, our pumpkin pie eating contests are heavily attended at the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden Festival. Most people think they can eat a lot but when it comes down to doing it, most eager eaters get sick or withdraw,” shares Director of Marketing, Gina Kaegi. “We thank Nathan’s for their generous hot dog donation that will be featured in the event and look forward to crowning our first Carefree top dog winner with an official trophy and the notoriety that comes with it.”

In addition to the hot dog eating contest, guests can enjoy a dunk tank, Corn Hole Tournament, a beer and wine garden, plus the grilling of hamburgers and hotdogs. The Kiwanis Splash Pad will also be open along with other activities such as free face painting, a music DJ, Zumba, karate, mini putt golf, kid’s lemonade stand by the Desert Foothills YMCA, raffle prizes/baskets and more.

“This will be a good time to reminisce with friends, meet new neighbors and enjoy our downtown business district. We hope this becomes an annual tradition,” said Les Peterson, mayor of Carefree.

Sponsors of the event include 4CMedical Group, Edward Jones, Tyrol Title, Liberty Utilities, Ted Phillip Denton Contemporary Art and Happy Fitness with Patricia. Participating local restaurants include Corrado’s Italiana Cucina, Carefree Coffee Roastery, The Meat Market, Black Mountain Coffee Shop and Café and Venues Café. Nonprofits and partners also benefiting include Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, Carefree Water Company, Desert Foothills Foodbank, Desert Foothills YMCA and Foothills Caring Corps.

RSVP’s are suggested; send an email to events@carefree.org. Local businesses that want to attend and/or volunteer, should send an email to vicki@carefree.org or call 480.488.3686.

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